SA cameraman escapes Nigerian kidnappers

A cameraman who was among three members of a South African television crew abducted in Nigeria has fled to safety and is now in Lagos, an official from the M-Net channel told Agence-France Presse.

Alexander Effiong, a Nigerian cameraman, “fled from his abductors and has now arrived in Lagos”, M-Net SuperSport general manager in Nigeria, Felix Awogu, said in a telephone interview.

“The young man took a big risk. He ran away from them and he is now back to us in Lagos,” he said, declining to give details of his escape.

Awogu expressed optimism that the remaining two captives—South African television production engineer Nick Greyling and Nigerian sports commentator Bowie Attamah—would soon be released.

“I am very positive about their imminent release. I am sure that very soon, they will be set free.
The acting president of Nigeria, the Imo state police command and ministers are involved in attempts to secure their release,” he said.

Captives are ‘fine’
He said he had spoken with the two captives still being held and that they are “fine”.

“We are also in talks with the abductors,” he said, insisting that payment of a ransom for their release was not yet being discussed.

Ransom demands in Nigeria range from several hundred thousand dollars to millions depending on the wealth and status of the hostage, although kidnappers will often accept lower sums.

Gunmen snatched the crew members after ambushing a bus carrying them to the airport in Werra on Monday afternoon, the capital of Imo State, which neighbours the oil hub of Rivers State.

Earlier on Tuesday, the police in the state said they were investigating the kidnapping.

“Investigations into the case have commenced,” state police spokesperson Linus Nwaiwu told AFP.

“Our detectives are on the ground and after these investigations I believe in the next few days you will have a different story,” he added.

The crew were returning from covering a soccer match in the nearby city of Enugu, 150 kilometres away.

‘The experts are dealing with it’
Kidnappings are relatively common in Nigeria’s restive oil-rich south, where they originally targeted oil workers. However in recent months, they have spread to other parts of the country, including Lagos.

M-Net Multichoice Africa spokesperson Caroline Creasy in Johannesburg said the channel had entrusted the matter to a specialist security company in Nigeria to handle while working closely with the government.

“We ... left the matter in the hands of the experts who deal with these kinds of matters,” she said.

In September 2008 armed oil rebels in the Niger Delta released two South African workers unharmed after they were taken hostage by sea pirates.

More than 500 people were kidnapped in the first six months of 2009, of whom 10 were killed, according to official statistics.

Most of those kidnapped were foreign oil workers.—Sapa-AFP

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